|Israel Table of Contents
Labor Zionism, although by far the largest organization in the Yishuv (the prestate Jewish community in Palestine), did not go unchallenged. The largest and most vocal opposition came from a Russian-born Jewish intellectual residing in Odessa, Vladimir Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky was both a renowned writer and the first military hero of the Zionist revival; he was commander of the Jewish Legion. While residing in Italy, Jabotinsky became attached to the notions of romantic nationalism espoused by the great Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi. Like Garibaldi, Jabotinsky viewed nationalism as the highest value to which humans can aspire. He called for massive Jewish immigration to Palestine and the immediate declaration of Jewish statehood in all of biblical Palestine. He viewed the world in Machiavellian terms: military and political power ultimately determine the fate of peoples and nations. Therefore, he called for the establishment of a well-armed Jewish self-defense organization.
Jabotinsky sharply criticized Ben-Gurion's single-minded focus on creating a Jewish working-class movement, which he felt distracted the Zionist movement from the real issue at hand, Jewish statehood. He gained wide popularity in Poland, where his criticisms of socialism and his calls for Jewish self-defense appealed to a Jewish community of small entrepreneurs hounded as a result of anti-Semitism.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress